I’m not inherently a fan of conspiracies.

I don’t believe the moon landing was a hoax, Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966, or there’s an ancient race of lizard people controlling humanity (although at times the reptile overlord theory certainly feels not all that far-fetched).

However, there IS truth to the rumor that our fast food desires are subject to manipulation.

According to a recent article on Mashed.com (no relation to potatoes), McDonald’s uses several “tricks” to lure us into ordering more of those delicious fries and shakes. For example:

The “Health Halo” Trick – now we all want to eat healthy (or at least say we do), but when facing the choice between a crisp salad and a tasty Big Mac… well, it’s just not a fair fight. Research shows that including healthy items on a menu encourages consumers to purchase the more unhealthy options. Even though we know logically that “fries doesn’t equal salad,” by putting them together on a menu, we instinctively associate one with the other.

The “Grouping” Trick – we like to see groups of threes, as in “The Three Stooges” or “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” It’s how we’re wired. So it’s very common for McDonald’s to present food options in groups of three – as in the standard breakfast meal of an Egg McMuffin, hashbrowns, and a drink. They also did this with their Signature selection of sandwiches – The Classic, The Spicy, and The BBQ. Seeing three of anything catches our attention and makes us more likely to consider the options offered.

And last, but certainly not least…

The “Nostalgia” Trick – one of the brand’s greatest strengths is its impact on mass culture. Generations have now grown up with McDonald’s and have fond memories of hanging out there with friends and family. So they focus their advertising on affirming that image – making sure to remind everyone that they’re a part of your life, from childhood on. The venerable “Happy Meal” remains a kid favorite, reminding you of birthdays and toys.

Whether you love them or hate them, McDonalds has stood the test of time in staying atop their industry. When it comes to your investment planning, you want similar stability and long term thinking.

We’re here to help. Just give us a call at 513-563-PLAN (7526) or book online, and we can help you and your finances stay up to date and ready for many delicious tomorrows.


Nikki Earley, CFP®